Fresh new gear gets all the love. But, sometimes you simply can't afford it along with rent, new snow tires, and a season pass. Luckily, if you have a ski boot that isn't totally trashed yet, and fits you properly, then new liners can breathe a bit of life into them—extending them for a few seasons so you can focus on skiing rather than worrying about picking up that extra shift at work. Below are a few after-market liners, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. But don't forget everyone's feet are different, making that visit to your local boot shop to investigate further options highly worthwhile.
Fully customizable, these heat-moldable closed-cell EVA foam liners add stiffness and avoid hot spots. Once cooked by your bootfitter, they thin out where the shell fit of the boot is extremely tight and shore up spots that need a little more padding, like the ankle and heel pocket.
Of note, they shouldn't be used to take up space (i.e. if you have too big of a boot), but the Powerwrap design is super helpful if you have a boot that has more room along the break of the boot—where the ankle flexes the cuff from the lower shell.
I've used them in my resort boots and touring boots religiously given they are warm, yet lightweight with added stiffness, eventually wearing one pair out and sliding into another with ease. And even though there isn't a soft spot for touring along the calf, don't let that scare you away–your lower leg doesn't hinge backward, anyway.
The Pro Tongue is the first Intuition tongue-styled liner that can go toe-to-toe with the Powerwrap, since both offer exceptional stiffness. However, if the space between your ankle and boot's cuff material is really tight, the chances of sliding in a Powerwrap comfortably are small.
Trust me, I've tried and it can be painful. Luckily, the Pro Tongue takes all the benefits of the Powerwrap and places it into a more traditional-styled liner. It's perfect for those who want the feel of their stock liners in a lighter and warmer package. This new design has great heel hold too, much better than the Intuition HD Tongue in my opinion.
Designed by Sven Coomer, a boot guru based out of Aspen, Colorado. Zip Fit liners use a proprietary and unique cork composite that fine-tunes the fit of your ski boot. They're heat-moldable, but the difference between them and a foam-based liner is that they're constantly in flux—meaning the compound is malleable and shifts according to the shape of your foot.
During the heat-mold process, the warm compound flows around the shape of your foot, and once cool firms up for structural integrity. You can also inject or remove additional compound to dial in the fit. The brand recommends that you accompany the boot with a heated bag, and while that seems a bit over the top, putting these things on cold days isn't fun. It also helps to put the Zip Fit on first then slide them into the boot.
Either way, make sure you stash them next to your car's air vent to blast them with heat before skiing.
Foam Injection Liner (Price Varies Contact your local bootfitter)
I've run a foam-injected liner in my alpine boots for the past few seasons. For years I contemplated it, watched my buddies get shot up with the foam as they cringed in pain at the bootshop, but then dance happily around the mountain never adjusting a thing in their fit until the liner finally packed out. It costs more, but there's a reason the guys who work at the boot shop use them—the fit is dialed.
It's like getting a foam-injected cast into your ski shell. You only get one shot at perfection, and when my buddy foam-injected mine, he gave me a shot of whiskey and beer first, then slammed the foam in, which hardened fairly instantly. However, the few minutes of discomfort are worth every penny because the performance is unmatched. That being said they are pricey, but for a resort boot (these are too heavy for touring) there's nothing better.